Australian scientists have said it could be another five years before a vaccine is developed to protect pigs from African swine fever.
Voice of America has reported that while ASF has yet to reach Australia, it is close, having spread rapidly through Asia, and with outbreaks having been reported in East Timor, one of Australia’s closest neighbours.
At the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in the state of Victoria, researchers are hopeful of a breakthrough, but concede an effective treatment for ASF could be at least five years away.
Laboratory director Dr Trevor Drew said: “I do not think I really expected African swine fever to spread with such ferocity. I think we will not be able to control African swine fever until there is a vaccine available.
“Without a vaccine, Australia will rely on traditional methods of disease control should ASF reach its shores. Infected pigs would be culled, their carcasses buried and farms disinfected.”
Australia’s multi-million dollar pork industry includes about 2,700 producers, which employ 34,000 people.
There are concerns the disease could spread through Australia’s large feral pig population, which numbers around 25 million, and the animals are spread across almost half the country.
Scientists say the most likely way ASF could enter Australia is through infected pork products that are then fed to pigs. Under new bio-security laws, Australia is deporting tourists who fail to declare illegal pork products.